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Full text of "My country and my people"

LITERARY    LIFE                           255
care, a true friend in trouble, a model madame who was not jealous of her rival, and finally a high official somewhat in love with his own power and glory. These are some of the elements in the Chinese drama on which the public are fed, the same elements that make moving pictures like Way Down East and Over the Hill great popular hits in China. They also show the Chinese as a profoundly emotional people, with a weakness for sentimental plots.
X. THE NOVEL
Chinese novelists were afraid to let people know that they could condescend to such a thing as the writing of novels. Take the case of a comparatively recent work, Tehsao Paoyen, written by Hsia Erhming in the eighteenth century. He wrote very original essays and beautiful poetry, and many travel and biographical sketches like all conventional scholars, now collected in Huanyuhsienchi, But he also wrote the Tehsao Paoyen, and his authorship of this novel can be proved beyond a doubt through poems and essays in his collected works. However, as late as the autumn of 1890 his dutiful great-grandson reprinted the Huanyuhsienchi in order to perpetuate Hsia's name, but he dared not or would not, anyway did not, include the novel, incontrovertibly Hsia's best work, in the list of his literary works. Only as late as 1917 did Dr. Hu Shih definitely establish and clarify the authorship of the Red Chamber Dream as written by Ts'ao Hsiiehch'in, undoubtedly one of the greatest, if not the greatest master of Chinese prose (inpehhua). We still do not know who was the true author of Chinp'inmei (Gold-Vase-Plum}, and we are still in doubt as to which of the two alleged authors, Shih Nai-an or Lo Kuanchung, was the author of All Men Are Brothers.
Characteristic of this attitude toward the novel are the beginning and ending of the Red Chamber Dream. A Taoist monk found the story inscribed on a huge rock, which was the extra one left behind by the legendary goddess Niiwo when she was using 36,500 rocks to mend a huge crack in the sky, caused by a terrific fight of "Olympian" giants. This rock was